Just in time for Veterans Day, Habitat for Humanity of Effingham County dedicated its first home built for a military veteran.
Army veteran Cristal Boyles, her husband Larry and their 14-month-old son Levi moved into the house in the Shawnee community last week. Habitat volunteers built the house over the past six months and dedicated it with a ceremony Sunday.
“I’m very thankful for everybody that volunteered and everything that was done to make this happen,” Boyles said. “So many emotions are going through me.”
Boyles’ active duty in the Army included three assignments in Southwest Asia, and she served in a combat zone in Operation Desert Storm. She served as transport truck driver and administrative specialist.
Habitat of Effingham selected Boyles about four years ago as the first recipient in its effort to build homes for veterans. After construction of the house was delayed for a combination of reasons, including a changeover in Habitat of Effingham’s board of directors and a decline in donations during the economic downturn, the Boyles family received the keys to the house last Wednesday.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Ruth Brown, who chaired Habitat’s family selection committee when Boyles was chosen. “But the Word says, those that wait on the Lord shall mount up as eagles.”
Through her involvement with Habitat, Cristal met Larry. The two were married in September 2012.
“Habitat actually put this family together,” said Jimmy Rutland, Habitat of Effingham’s executive director.
Larry volunteers as one of Habitat of Effingham’s construction supervisors. He has helped build houses for four local families and worked on several home repair projects, including some for veterans.
Habitat for Humanity of Effingham County founder Morris Oglesby, a World War II veteran, praised Larry for being a “dynamite” worker who steps in to help the organization in any way he can.
“I want you to know how much this man here means to Habitat,” Oglesby said. “He’s one of those kind of guys that says, ‘Here I am, Lord — send me.’ That’s why we’re out here with this house today, Larry — because of people like you.”
Larry choked up as he thanked everyone who made his family’s house a reality. He explained that he became involved in Habitat to help others, never imagining he would be the one moving into a new home or “meeting a wonderful wife.”
“I’m thankful the way God brings things together for us,” he said. “We know we might struggle a long time and never realize it, but when it comes that need, He’ll make sure you have it.”
State Rep. Bill Hitchens, one the guests at the ceremony, said the Boyles family was living the American dream of owning their own home.
“I think God intended for all of us to work together, to come together to help our fellow man,” Hitchens said. “This is a culmination of a lot of hard work on a lot of people’s part. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you, and I know the Boyles family will thank you forever.”